Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CfP:: International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis: Discursive Spaces. Politics, Practices and Power

International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis: Discursive Spaces. Politics, Practices and Power

Dates: 23–25 June 2011

Location: Cardiff University, Wales, UK
Supported by: ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability & Society

Introduction and conference themes
The conference will provide a forum to explore long-standing themes in the interpretive tradition, in particular governance, democracy and deliberation, the use of discourse and interpretive methods in critical policy analysis, and the relationship of discourse to power. It will also explore new places and horizons for interpretive policy analysis. This will be particularly evident in the keynote presentations and roundtables which are focussed on the contribution of interpretive policy analysis to addressing major political and social questions of our times; the use of interpretivist and deliberative methods in non-Western contexts; and the inclusion of non-cognitive perspectives on human agency. The conference will also offer an opportunity to assess how interpretive methods can help to understand new forms of governance, the role of the state, and various modes of policymaking from the local to the global scale. It will provide an opportunity to discuss the theory and practice of democracy, and for debating different methods of interpretation and critical explanation.
Interpretive methods have now been well established in a wide range of research fields, from policy analysis to the sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies, international relations, cultural political economy, urban research, planning, and many others. They often inform policy and practices, in particular in areas like participatory and deliberative policy analysis and planning. The relationship between interpretive methods, governance and policy practice raises several important questions that underpin the conference themes listed below:
  • Interpretive Methods and Policy Processes: How exactly can and do interpretive and critical methods inform the policy process? Under which circumstances are they accepted as legitimate modes of knowledge production? What evidence do we have about their impact on policy-making? How does interpretive policy analysis relate to everyday policy knowledge, how does it alter our understanding of modes of knowing, and how is this important for policy-making? Which modes of governance are conducive to, or even reliant on, critical policy analysis?
  • Sustainable Development and Interpretive and Critical Policy Analysis: Developed as a response to a complex and global set of crisis-like phenomena, the term “sustainable development” is both dominant in many policy discourses and highly contested. How can interpretive and critical policy analysis help to clarify issues and enhance democratic approaches in the face of technocratic and even autocratic visions of sustainability? How can it encourage participatory and context-sensitive approaches? What is the contribution to creating links between global problems and local practices?
  • Meaning, Practice and Policy: The complex interplay of meaning and practice has been a central theme of interpretive and critical policy analysis for a long time. How are meaning-making, framing and category-making important for the policy process? What are the merits and limitations of hermeneutic, pragmatist and structuralist informed approaches? How can they help us to understand changing modes of governance? What is their potential to enhance democracy?
  • Emotions and Feelings in Policy: New avenues for interpretive and critical policy analysis have been opened up by recent research on the role of emotions, feelings and the unconscious in the policy process. How can we include non-cognitive dimensions in policy analysis? How does this contribute to our understanding of the policy process? What are the practical implications both for the research process and for policy-making?
  • Globalising Interpretive Analysis: Interpretive and critical policy analysis has been developed in the context of Western democracies. How far have they travelled to other places? How do they fare in contexts that are often very different? What are the methodological limitations? What is their potential in less affluent, less open, less secularised societies (and are such deficit descriptions appropriate at all)? Are there regionally different approaches and ways forward? How is the critically reflexive concept of knowledge been received in non-Western contexts?
  • Interpreting the State in Policy Analysis: The state has been a centrepiece of political thinking since its inception. But political thinking has often been led astray by essentialist and even idolizing notions of the state. How can interpretive, narrative or performative approaches inform more democratic views of the state? How does this enhance our understanding of governance? What are the practical implications for policy analysis?
Paper proposals are encouraged to engage with the conference themes, but are equally invited to address other themes and issues in the realm of interpretive policy analysis and adjacent fields. Conference papers might include one or more of the following topics:
  • Theoretical: The contribution of a particular theoretical or philosophical approach to critical policy, policy discourse and power analysis, including the emerging focus on global policy.
  • Empirical: Analytic and empirical case studies of discourse and power, especially in relation to policy practices, deliberation, and governance, both local and global; interpretive understandings of the policy process; the role of knowledge in the policy process.
  • Substantive: Case studies from particular policy issue arenas, from the local to the global (e.g., local, reflexive and meta-governance; political economy; environmental policymaking, the politics of climate change and sustainable development; gender relations; global policy, global inequalities; bio-politics; food policy; urban and regional planning; and immigration policy).
  • Methodological: Issues in doing interpretive and critical policy analysis (e.g., reflexivity in policy-analytic practices; issues in using new recording technologies; internet research; getting, and using, feedback from ‘informants’ evaluating software programs; non-verbal methods; mobile methodologies; mixed methods approaches).
  • Practical: Clarification of interpretive approaches in use, such as varieties of discourse analysis, narrative analysis, deliberative policy inquiry, framing, rhetoric, category-making and metaphor.
  • Policy Analysis and Practice: The relationship between policy analytic practices and democratic and/or other theories of governance.
Proposals for Papers
Paper proposals will be submitted via email directly to the panel convenors by 31 January 2011. Selected panels and convenors’ emails have been published on the conference website Proposals for papers that do not fit into one of the panels should be submitted to the “Open Section” and emailed to, with “Paper proposal” in the subject heading. A maximum of two submissions per individual will be accepted. All paper proposals should be sent as Word file and contain:
  • Number and title of panel
  • Title of paper
  • Name, institutional affiliation and email of the presenter(s)
  • Abstract (max 300 words)
  • Up to five keywords
Please use Arial 11 to facilitate further processing. Paper givers will be notified about acceptance of their papers by mid February. For those paper proposals that are accepted, full papers of no more than 6.000 words will be due one month prior to the conference date: 23 May 2011. They should be emailed to both and the panel convenors, writing “Full paper” in the subject heading. Submitted conference papers will be accessible for registered participants through the conference website. Papers from the conference may be considered for a special issue of Critical Policy Studies, Editors - Frank Fischer (Rutgers University, USA) and Steven Griggs (De Montfort, UK); Forum Editors – Navdeep Mathur (Indian Institute of Management, India) and Douglas Torgerson (Trent University, Canada). To reach the editorial team of Critical Policy Studies, please contact Helen Hancock at

Methodology Workshops
A number of the sessions will be devoted to methodological workshops. These 90-minute workshop sessions feature specialists in different aspects of interpretive policy analysis. The workshop sessions, following the approach employed in earlier conferences, build on the idea of a “master-class” in musical studies, where two more experienced researchers will meet a small number of “newer” researchers to discuss issues in using a particular methodological strategy or method. The emphasis will be on questions raised by the newer researchers, and their research will be treated as case studies to generate and engage relevant methodological issues. Presenters are asked to focus on their methods.
The workshops seek to create a setting where newer scholars can benefit from focused interaction with more seasoned experts in their field. The goal is to discuss questions about interpretive research and to exchange experiences on a range of relevant topics, such as discourse analysis, interviewing and participant observation. The sessions will be facilitated, and the discussants will be established figures in the field of interpretative policy analysis, such as Frank Fischer, Navdeep Mathur, Henk Wagenaar, and Dvora Yanow. The sessions are fully incorporated into the regular conference program; and, as part of an effort to create a collaborative learning environment, the sessions are open to all conference participants.
In order to take part in a workshop session, newer researchers invited to present their work in one of these will be asked to introduce their research project, pointing to particular methodological questions that have arisen in their research and/or field experiences that they would like to explore in the workshop. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in a Methodology Workshop, please submit your proposal to the conference email no later than 31 January 2011, writing “Methodology workshop proposal” in the subject heading of your email.
Your submission should include
  • your name, institutional affiliation and email
  • title of your research project
  • your career stage (e.g., year of your PhD studies, year PhD dissertation defense is anticipated, year of post-doc work and date PhD was received, etc.)
  • a brief description of your research project, its methodological approach and the problem that you would like to discuss (500-600 words, double-spaced, Arial 11).

For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Methodology Workshop Advisory Board by sending an E-Mail to, writing “Methodology workshop” in the subject heading. Full papers for the methodology workshops should have no more than 3.000 words and will be due one month prior to the conference date: 23 May 2011. They should be emailed to both and the panel convenors, writing "Methodology workshop paper" paper in the subject heading.

  • Call for Papers Deadline: January 31, 2011
  • Call for Participation in Methodology Workshop Deadline: January 31, 2011
  • Inquiries to:
  • Abstract submissions to direct to panel convenors (please see list and contact details on the conference website)

CfP:: Y-SASM 2011 - Engendering and Degendering South Asian Studies

Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM) 2011

19-21 May 2011

Venue: Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers: Engendering and Degendering South Asian Studies

In response to the positive feedback to the workshop held at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin) in July last year, the Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM) has been established as an annual workshop. The Y-SASM is to be held on a rotational basis at host universities, which this year will be the South Asian Studies Seminar of the Humboldt University, Berlin. The workshop will be held from the 19th -21st of May, 2011.
Last year, the workshop had the declared aim of providing young South Asianists with a platform for exchange and interaction that could further the integration and proliferation of research networks across the German-speaking region and beyond. The workshop reflected the vibrancy of South Asian Studies in the region and we hope that its institutionalization in the form of Y-SASM will contribute to and facilitate this trend.
In contrast to last year’s workshop, Y-SASM 2011 will have a thematic focus in order to encourage fruitful discussion. The topic of the Y-SASM 2011 is gender.
For quite some time now South Asian gender studies has been successfully highlighting the role of women in South Asian History. With recent developments in the field, however, we hold that gender studies can no longer be equated to women studies. Instead gender has increasingly evolved as a critical perspective with an inherently interdisciplinary character which can thus throw light on a far wider range of settings, constellations and problems in the South Asian region.
Historically, gender as an academic perspective has its roots in feminist theory and women studies, which emerged as an exclusively interventionist paradigm in the late 1960s and early 1970s and manifested itself in diverse feminist movements across the world, including South Asia. Since then, gender studies has come into its own as an academic field that questions existing forms of knowledge production. Significantly, it has come a long way in finding a balance between its role as a critical and theoretical perspective and its normative interventionist ideals. Indeed, the need for deconstructing binary categories such as 'women' and 'men' and the importance of questioning derivative binaries of sexuality is now highlighted. For example, since the 1990s, queer theory has been at the forefront in contesting the categorization of gender and sexuality essentialist lines. In the same way, there is need to continue emphasizing the gender perspective in South Asian Studies while simultaneously questioning its binary premises; thereby both engendering and degendering South Asian studies.

Thus, this workshop is interested in papers from various disciplinary backgrounds that can highlight how the gender perspective is enriching South Asian studies. We are looking for contributions pertaining to:
1. Sexualities and Gender
2. Gender and Technology
3. Historiography of Gender in South Asian Studies
4. Gender and Violence
5. Gender and Work
6. Gender: Development, Education and Health
7. Gender, Caste and Tribe
8. Gender: Communalism, Religion and Law
9. Gender in Literature and Media
10. Gender: the National and the Transnational

Y-SASM wishes to combine its aim of facilitating lively thematically focused debate with its goal of promoting exchange between new and young scholars. Thus, in addition to the thematic panels, one section of the workshop will be devoted to providing space to scholars to presenting their new projects. These presentations may be held on topics that fall outside the theme of the workshop.

Please send your abstracts (400-500 words) to the organizers no later than 15th February 2011. Other than those who will be directly participating in the workshop (through presentation), we invite all interested scholars working on South Asia to take part in the workshop. We hope, in this way, to begin the work of building up a new network of younger scholars working on South Asia. Currently, our funding situation is unclear and we therefore we strongly request our participants and guests to arrange for their own travel and accommodation.

Sadia Bajwa (Humboldt University, Berlin), Maria Framke (Jacobs University Bremen), Mette Gabler (Humboldt University, Berlin), Maria Moritz (Jacobs University, Bremen), Nitin Sinha (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin)

Sadia Bajwa: sadia.bajwa[at]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Science Communication Without Frontiers: Proceedings of PCST 2010

New Publication
Science Communication Without Frontiers: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Public Communication of Science & Technology (PCST 2010). December 6-10, 2010; New Delhi, India. Organized by International Network on Public Communication of Science and Technology network (PCST), National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), and Indian Science Communication Society (ISCOS)

About PCST
Public Communication of Science & Technology (PCST) is important for the economic and social wellbeing of society and for the exercise of participatory democracy. It implies the ability to respond to technical issues and problems that pervade our daily lives. It does not mean detailed knowledge of scientific principles, phenomena or technologies, but rather an appreciation of the way science works and how the community can interact with science to help shape its work. New technologies and new media can trigger and sustain public interest in S&T, allowing a dialogue to developing and preparing the people for change.
The 11th PCST Conference deliberated on both practical and theoretical aspects of science communication, in a globalised world with major inequalities and development challenges. Over 500 science communication practitioners and analysts from all continents compared experiences and perspectives on science-based issues of today and tomorrow.

Proceedings Include

  • Sharma, Aviram (2010). People's Perception of Public Participation in Regulatory Decision Making: The Case of Bottled Water Quality Standards in India, pp. 284.

Downlad PCST-2010 Proceedings in PDF Format

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bruno Latour: I would define politics as the composition of a common world

'I would define politics as the composition of a common world'

Interview with Bruno Latour, thinker and social anthropologist.

Bruno Latour is one of France's most innovative, provocative and stimulating thinkers and social anthropologists. Given French Cartesian orthodoxy, it is not surprising that he is more appreciated in the Anglo-Saxon world, where his books such as "We Have Never Been Modern" (1993) are better known than in his native France. Jon Thompson, the publisher and chief editor of Polity Press, London, described him as France's most original and interesting thinker and in 2007, Bruno Latour was listed as the 10th most-cited intellectual in the humanities and social sciences by The Times Higher Education Guide.

Mr. Latour's seminal work has been in the field of Science and Technology Studies. With his "Actor Network Theory" he has advanced the notion that the objects of scientific study are socially constructed within the laboratory. Thus scientific activity is viewed as a system of beliefs, oral traditions and culturally specific practices, reconstructed, not as a procedure or as a set of principles but as a culture. Mr. Latour will be in India this week conducting workshops in New Delhi. In this exclusive interview with The Hindu's Vaiju Naravane in Paris, he discusses the new challenges facing humanity and of India's role in the climate debate.

BRUND LATOUR: 'On governments the question becomes complicated because we are now talking about the politics of Nature and that's a rather new quandary.

I wish to start this interview with a discussion of one of your most famous books — "We Have Never Been Modern". Could you explain what you meant by that? What made you write this book and where do you go now?
The Great Narrative of the Western definition of the world was based on a certain idea of Science and Technology and once we began, 30 or 40 years ago to study the practices of the making of science and technology, we realised that this definition could not sustain the old idea of western rationality taking, in a way the place of archaic attachment to the past.

The Great Narrative was based on the idea of Science which was largely mythical. Science has always been linked to the other cultures of the Western World, although it has always described itself as apart — separated from politics, values, religion and so on. But when you begin to work on a history of Science — Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Einstein, Kantor or whoever, you find on the contrary, that things have never been severed, that there has always been a continuous re-connection with the rest of cultures and especially with the rest of politics.

So until the end of the 20th century the western Great Narrative was caught in a contradiction between its practice which was constant attachment between Science and Culture and its official description of itself as being rational, objective, separate, as being universal in that it operated everywhere in the same way. Now what is interesting from the Indian perspective is that the whole discourse about modernising or not modernising, about progressing or not progressing, between being archaic or not, was based on the baseline shibboleth provided by this idea of modernisation. Now if you change this baseline and if modernisation is not what has been going on in the so-called West, the “we” of We Have Never Been Modern, then it opens up many new conversations between the former modernising and the former modernised. And of course this fits very well with the large body of literature, mainly from India on post-colonial studies.

I would like to refer to a recent essay of yours in which you say and I quote: "… the meteorologists don't agree with the chemists; they are talking about cyclical fluctuations unrelated to human activity. … The horizons, the stakes, the time frames, the actors — none of these is commensurable and yet, there they are, caught up in the same story…" So what is going on in this debate over climate change and what happens to the role of governments?
On governments the question becomes complicated because we are now talking about the politics of Nature and that's a rather new quandary. Nature was not supposed to be part of anything — it was supposed to be out there. Not in the ancient tradition where there was no separation to begin with between Nature and society but now, when we have returned to a most interesting position, where Nature is back in politics. However, Nature is not able to unify the discussion so far because people are entering into controversies about Nature. And these controversies cannot be quashed by saying — you are not a scientist or you are not the government or from the West or whatever, and this is a very new arena for politics as well as for scientists and citizens. And that is the new area I am trying to map, so to speak. But no one has answers for that. No one has ever had to bring the climate into parliament! We are struggling collectively and India again is very important here because of its new role in Cancun and the climate debate.

In New Delhi you are holding talks with ecologists, engineers who develop digital technologies with social science applications and those engaged in both the climate change and globalisation debate from the emerging countries' point of view. Where do you think the meeting ground lies?
The responses have to be issue-specific, of course. But the first thing is to have a meeting ground which is defined neither by the need of Nature, as if Nature was able to exist universally and outside politics, nor by defining it only by market forces, although market forces have to be defined and organised as well. So it's more of a negative common ground, I would say. Do we agree that the problem cannot be solved by other than composing a common world? The composition of a common world would be the definition of politics.

You are one of France's most original, stimulating and provocative thinkers and yet, you are much better known and better appreciated outside France. Do you think this has to do with France's rigid Cartesian mindset and orthodoxy?
In France there is a specific reason. Science and Modernisation have been so entangled from the time of the French Revolution that it is difficult in here to reopen this question of universality, science, colonial expansion and so on without entering into many, many delicate and “hot” issues about identities. So the French identity has largely been based on a certain idea of Science and expansion and all these questions are now being debated and put into jeopardy. Everything here hinges on a certain idea of science and it's an idea of science that I am tackling and they don't like that too much! Of course there is the same discourse in India where attacking Science and Technology is considered reactionary and so forth. So the idea that there is no other alternative, that is, if you do not talk about Science and Technology in a “progress” mode, you are a reactionary is the same everywhere. In India, France or America, the same temptation is there. That is now changing because of the ecology crisis.

You have been working on the idea of eco-theology. Could you talk about that?
Given that we have to look for alternatives to the politics of Nature, I was interested in seeing if there is in the old tradition of Christian theology – I don't know enough about Indian tradition — about respect for Creation. Not about Nature but respect for Creation. And it happens that in the Orthodox Christian tradition of Central and Eastern Europe there is a large body of theological work around the question of Creation. My interest is that there is a disconnect between the science and the size of the threat that people mention about Nature, the planet and the climate and the emotion that this triggers. So we are supposed to be extremely frightened people, but despite that we appear to sleep pretty well. So either the threat is not that strong, or we have not built the kind of emotion we have built for war, for religious conflict and all sorts of other issues which make us very emotive.

Or that our fright is so great that it has numbed us …

That's also a very clear possibility and that's not a very good attitude either, nonetheless. That's why I'm interested in seeing and checking if there is in religious tradition where you fathom this question about emotion about Creation. And again, India is a very interesting place for that.